Recently, an appeals court ruled that job applicants are protected against workplace discrimination based on age – not just current employees. The decision signals a victory to older job seekers who have are often overlooked as candidates simply because of their age.
The ruling stems from a case, Kieber V. CareFusion, involving an attorney, Kieber, with over 25 years of experience who applied for a position with CareFusion Corp. in response to a job posting that said applicants should have “3 to 7 years (no more than 7 years) relevant legal experience.”
When the company did not contact Kieber for an interview despite his apparent suitability for the job, he sued for age discrimination alleging a 7 year cap on experience is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
The argument centers on the fact that even though a company’s hiring policies may not be expressly age based, they may disproportionality hurt older candidates, which, in legal terms, is “disparate impact.” In their defense, CareFusion said disparate impact only applies to current employees and the lower court agreed.
However, in a 2-1 appeals court reversal, the majority said that they were not presented with, nor could imagine any reason why the law was intended to allow disparate claims by current employees and internal applicants while excluding outside job applicants. The case is now headed back to district court.
Of course, age discrimination is often difficult to prove, so ADEA law is more about making sure that employers are not shaping the hiring process to exclude older workers – that’s where disparate impact comes in. Another prominent case currently working its way through federal courts in California illustrates the point – at issue in that case is whether a company is discriminating against older workers by focusing recruiting efforts almost exclusively on college students and grads.
The issues raised in Kieber v. CareFusion, and similar cases that have been decided across the nation with mixed results, are important for older job seekers who face discrimination in today’s job marketplace. With many seasoned job seekers calling foul, some believe that the issue of age discrimination against job applicants might eventually wind its way to the U.S. Supreme court.
Iowa Workplace Discrimination Employment Law Attorneys
If you have suffered workplace discrimination or harassment based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability or another protected class in any phase of the employment process, contact the Des Moines Employment Law Attorneys of Stoltze & Stolze PLC for assistance today.